New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

In what turned out to be one of the more exciting games of the season, the New York Islanders outlasted the Rangers at MSG on Sunday.

New York Islanders 6 (36-20-7, 39 pts)
New York Rangers 4 (38-22-6, 42 pts)
Metropolitan Division, Final Game Box Score
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

By Robby Sabo

What went down at Madison Square Garden, during a seemingly normal late Sunday afternoon, turned out to be anything but normal.

Faster than anything you could possibly imagine, the New York Islanders jumped all over the New York Rangers. Three goals within the first 4:45 of the first period had the Garden faithful in complete silence. In fact, all three goals came in the span of just 1:55.

RELATED: Rangers, Islanders Combine For Seven First Period Goals (Videos)

Johnny Boychuk was setup beautifully to put one in past Antti Raanta (starting in place of the injured Henrik Lundqvist), Brock Nelson collected his 22nd of the season, and Kyle Okposo deflected a Nick Leddy shot while on the power play:

An Alain Vigneault timeout wasn’t an option at that point, it was a necessity. The Rangers responded.

The third and fourth line came through with flying colors as Oscar Lindberg and Tanner Glass cut the deficit to 3-2:

Until they were able to tie the game, however, the Isles struck back in the form of Boychuk, yet again, making it 4-2.

That was the score, for only 30-seconds, until newcomer Eric Staal collected his first goal as a Ranger:

Folks, I want to be clear here: This was just the first period. 40 minutes were still left to play with the score 4-3 in favor of the Islanders.

In classic fashion the second period went scoreless, and for the most part, the third period was also a defensive struggle.

It remained that way until the Blueshirts finally capitalized on a power play. It was Derick Brassard netting his 23rd of the campaign:

The only situation more fitting than to see both teams earn a tough point by going into overtime, was to see one team suddenly take hold late. That’s exactly what Cal Clutterbuck did in shocking fashion off a faceoff:

An empty-netter from Frans Nielsen sealed the deal and the New York Islanders continue to roll.

While most will point to the fact Lundqvist wasn’t in net and Raanta seemed to struggle, the bigger culprit from a Rangers’ point-of-view was the fact that their discipline and overall energy level was horrid from the jump. Down 3-0 provides such a narrow margin of error, and against a team rolling like the Isles, it’s tough to overcome.

The Isles just continue to hit their stride at the right time of the season. They outplayed the team from Manhattan for the majority of the contest and are now just three points behind in the standings with three games in hand.

Buckle your seat-belts folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride to the finish in the Metro Division.

3 Stars Of The Game:

  1. J. Boychuk (Islanders – D): Goals: 2, Assists: 0
  2. E. Staal (Rangers – C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1
  3. C. Clutterbuck (Islanders – RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

NEXT: A New York Rangers, Islanders Playoff Series Would Mean ‘Everything’

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]